Album of the Year: Red Rum Club – Matador

There’s a vibrant local music scene in Glasgow, and you’ll find the same new and upcoming bands playing regularly. For months, Alice (a friend of mine) had been telling me to come along and see Red Rum Club. The band seemed to be playing all the time, but no matter two things never seemed to change: 1) the date never suited and I was always elsewhere, 2) Alice kept berating me for not going along to see the band. She just knew I’d love them.

Then, at this year’s Stag and Dagger Festival in the city I finally got the chance to see them live as well as hear what all the fuss was about. They had been playing so frequently that I believed they were a Glasgow band, so imagine my surprise when singer Fran addressed the crowd in a gorgeous Liverpudlian accent!

Liverpool’s Red Rum Club won my heart that night and the very next day I found myself picking up their debut album which had come out a few months earlier. With the memory of their energetic and sublime live show still ringing in my ears I hit play on Matador not knowing it would quickly become my favourite spin for the remainder of the year.

The album begins with ‘Angeline’ storming out the traps evoking all the best parts of a Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack. As a statement of intent it’s perfect. From the chunky guitars, the perfect rhythm, vocal refrain and of course the horns. They have a unique sound – something not too easy in today’s indie music landscape – accentuated by the use of horn giving it that “Tarantino sound” I mentioned earlier. Do not be fooled though, Red Rum Club are not a niche act or a weird genre, they are an out and out chart bothering indie band that you need to experience.

As if not content with such a brilliant opener the album ups it’s game immediately with quite possibly my favourite new song of recent years, “Would Your Rather Be Lonely?” This song is a slice of perfection in my ears, the lyric content asks the eternal question of love in a unique Red Rum Club manner. The chorus is immaculate and sticks in your head for days after hearing.

The quality continues through ‘Hung Up’ and on to ‘TV Said So’, and ‘Honey’. Each of these tracks could’ve been a single and (not surprisingly) of the five, four were! Seriously, they are all brilliant. On vinyl, this makes up “Side A” of the album and it couldn’t be better paced or packed with top-tier songs.

The “second side” starts with the slower and moodier ‘Nobody Gets Out Alive’ before the fantastic single ‘Calexico’ gets you tapping your toes once more. If your toes were tapping before, then ‘Casanova’ will get you up off your seat and moving (if you don’t want to start moving hearing the rhythms at play here, then are you even alive?). Once again the pace slows down for ‘Remedy (To Clean A Dirty Soul)’ before album title track, ‘Matador’ closes the album out.

‘Matador’ is another slower song in Red Rum Club’s arsenal, and is perhaps more regular in sound, but rather than being “samey” or bland, it shows a different side to the band.

Coming in at 32 minutes for 10 songs the album doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, it’s full of perfect pop-length moments, and reminds that in the age of songs, playlists, and mixes that the album as an art form still very much has a place. The best music should be heard in context, and I’ll always argue a great album far outweighs a mix of great songs on a Spotify Playlist.

Matador exudes energy, catchiness and leaves you with a wish to hit play again and again. This is one of those great albums and easily achieves my album of 2019 as nothing else comes close. Perhaps even more exciting as we go in to 2020, is that not only is this a great album, it’s a great debut album and that excites me greatly as to what Red Rum Club do next.

Gareth Fraser
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